EcoJustice Radio and Adventures In Waste look at Single Use Consumption Culture and how proposed Single-Use Plastic legislation in California attempts to reduce plastic pollution and support recycling and Circular Economy efforts.
This is Installment Two of our National Zero Waste Conference series meant to elevate the voices featured during the two-day event in Berkeley, California (postponed for now). Our guests are Mike Sangiacomo, President & Chief Executive Officer of Recology and Eric Potashner, Vice President & Senior Director of Recology, speaking with our host, Jessica Aldridge from Adventures in Waste. Check out Installments One and Three! More Info: https://zwconference.org/
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Can Legislation Stop Single-Use Plastics?
Since the 1950s, the U.S. population has been told that it is our responsibility to reduce waste, to not litter, and recycling everything. That the solution is on our shoulders and that environmental and social costs of the plastic plague are due to our (the people’s) lack of caring and involvement.
The nonprofit Keep America Beautiful was formed and funded by major corporations (like PepsiCo, Coca Cola, McDonalds, oil companies, plastic manufacturers, and many more) created (what is probably the most well-known) anti-litter campaign and supported stronger enforcement of local and state codes around litter. And that is good. I mean litter is bad and people should be disincentivized for doing so.
However, while they put 100% of their efforts on the downstream consumer responsibility, their membership (directly or through trade associations) have been known to lobby against industry regulations, production restrictions, refillable container opportunities, and other options that would in turn inconvenience the oil and packaging industry. Even recently, some associations have lobbied and won in a handful of states within the USA legislation called, “bans against bans.” Meaning that state or local government cannot ban a particular item. Their argument being, industry can regulate itself.
Currently a large percentage of our landfill waste originates from packaging material. EPA defines containers and packaging as products that are assumed to be discarded the same year the products they contain are purchased. Containers and packaging make up almost 30% (80.1 million tons) of our total generated waste in 2017. Packaging is used to wrap or protect goods, including food, beverages, medications and cosmetic products and is also used in the shipping, storage and protection of products.
What is the responsibility of the businesses creating the products we use, including packaging material? Should they share in the responsibility to ensure a product is truly recyclable or compostable in current markets? What is their role if a product they create cannot be readily recycled and composted? Should the product have a minimum recycled content in order to stimulate a healthy economy for recycled resin? Or is it alright for their responsibility to be completely abandoned once a product is sold and consumed?
On this show we dive into these questions and talk about what is happening with California legislation that is looking to reduce plastic pollution and support recycling and Circular Economy efforts.
Ballot Measure website: https://plasticsfreeca.org/
MICHAEL J. SANGIACOMO has served as the Recology President & Chief Executive Officer and a member of its Board of Directors since November 1990. Over the past three decades, under Mr. Sangiacomo’s leadership, Recology, an integrated resource recovery company, has expanded its operations from Northern California to include more than 60 operating solid waste processing companies and facilities across California, Washington, and Oregon. As the largest employee-owned company in the waste and recycling industry, Recology serves 140 communities along the West Coast.
ERIC POTASHNER joined Recology’s Corporate team in 2012. Eric is responsible for a team that executes on the company’s strategies for government affairs, permitting, planning, and community and media relations across California, Oregon, and Washington.
JESSICA ALDRIDGE, co-host of EcoJustice Radio, is a long-time environmental steward, non-profit and community organizer, and waste industry leader. As Director of Sustainability and Zero Waste Programs for Athens Services, a waste hauler in Los Angeles County, Jessica works closely with businesses, schools and municipalities to provide closed-loop solutions, paying special attention to program design, employee training, and customer education. As founder of Adventures in Waste, she also consults with major corporate brands on their waste reduction efforts.
The National Zero Waste Conference is a two day educational and networking event organized by the National Recycling Coalition.
Podcast Website: http://ecojusticeradio.org/
Podcast Blog: https://wilderutopia.com/category/ecojustice-radio/
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Hosted by Jessica Aldridge
Engineer: Blake Lampkin
Executive Producer: Jack Eidt
Show Created by Mark and JP Morris
Music: Javier Kadry
Photo credit: Greenpeace USA
Updated 20 February 2021